St Croix River Road Ramblings

Welcome to River Road Ramblings.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Alberta C Hanson 1921 - 2013

Mom, Alberta C Hanson, passed away last night in her sleep.  She was 91 years old.  I had visited her yesterday as had my brother Marvin, and she was fine.  

I will update this more later--but she died as we all would like to, active up to the end, mentally alert and in her sleep.  Although it is a shock right now, we are grateful that she went peacefully and while still independent.  

The funeral will be November 7th, at the Trade River Evangelical Free church north of Cushing, WI with visitation at 4 pm , service at 5 pm and lunch immediately after the service. 

Alberta Christina Hanson passed away during her sleep October 25, 2013 at her rural home near Cushing, WI.  Alberta was 91 years old.  She was born December 18, 1921 in Maple Grove Township, Barron County, WI, to Thomas and Clarice (Nelson) Lyste, the oldest of 5 children.  Her father died in 1930 and the family was split up with Alberta being adopted by Eugene and Nettie Hanson.  She grew up in  Sterling Township, Polk County, WI.  She attended the Evergreen School, riding a horse 3 miles each day.

In 1942, while running the Wolf Creek Store with her parents, she married Vivian R. Hanson and moved to the Evergreen Av Farm where she lived the next 72 years, active in many local groups, raising 4 boys, and taking care of several elderly relatives in her home, including her mother and aunt who both lived to be 100 years old. 

Alberta was an avid gardener, enjoyed painting, liked to travel, and especially enjoyed cooking, winning many recipe/cooking competitions.  For nearly 30 years she wrote the Sterling News in several local newspapers as well as a cooking column.  Alberta enjoyed trying new things; bright colors and especially liked writing letters.  Her 100 Christmas cards for 2013 are ready to send, each with a personal note inside.   

Alberta was  preceded in death by a son, Byron and her husband VR.  She is survived by a brother, Archie Lyste of Madison, sons, Marvin, Russell. and Everett, 8 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. 

A celebration of Alberta’s life will be held at the Trade River Evangelical Free Church, Thursday, Nov 7, with visitation at 4 pm, service at 5 pm, and as she would have insisted, with a substantial lunch following.  Rowe  Funeral Home of Luck WI is handling the cremation.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Medical Alert -- Help I have fallen...

Medical Alert Link
Mom, 91, listens to TV a lot. Her TV friends are more real than most others as when one lives to be that old, most of your friends have passed on and your relatives have spread far and wide and have lives of their own. 

 One of the high pressure ads is the medical alert systems where an old person has fallen and presses a button and gets help. Just call an 800 number and sign up.  Many ads come directly through the mail too, likely from mailing lists sold by charities that prey on the elderly.  

   Mom sent in a card, got a high pressure pitch to sign up for $35 per month system located in Pennsylvania and did with the bill to come in the mail.      

  After talking to Jennie, her neighbor who is 96, her only regular visitor other than her 3 sons,  she changed her mind and tried to call back and cancel.  The high pressure salesman, Chris Corsant (?) talked her into giving her bank account number and signing up for more months instead of cancelling. 

Jennie scolded mom for giving out her bank account, and that is where Mom brought brother Marv into the process (who brought in Ev and me).  We were unable to reach a person with the phone number.  Messages left were ignored.  Oh Oh, one of those scams to get your bank account number and run it dry. 

The device (rented by the monthly fee of $35) came in the mail by UPS.   We told mom to not accept it.  It was just dropped off without her knowledge on the porch.   I took it to UPS and "refused delivery."  

That happened 2 times.  Marv had the $99.25 initial charge stopped at the bank (cost $35 to do this).  

Then Mom got a letter in the mail with the bill, $99.35 and a phone number of the actual company -- not just the salesman. 

 Marv called them and explained the cancellation and refusal and they appeared to be OK with that--saying when they got the device back would take mom off the signup.  In the meantime, we are debating getting rid of the bank account number--switching to a new account that the company doesn't have.   The new charge if submitted, was 10 cents higher, would again cost $35 to have the local bank stop it if indeed we could catch it ahead of time. 

The company appears to be legitimate, just employs charlatans as phone sales people--likely independent people. They did send a real package from a drop shipping point in PA of a real medical alert system (at least according the labeling on the un-opened package).  

  While this is going on we have been working with Mom on not giving her bank account number over the phone and not ordering things without some advice--things that are services rather than just an item.  She has been sending a few $2 checks each day to all sorts of the charities that send you a dime, some labels, Christmas stickers, and of course a few dozen fundamentalist TV preachers.  

She believes the $2 each means she is paying for the gifts.  I reminded her that her mother (also in her 90s) got into the same set of scams and that mom ended up stopping her writing checks when that happened.   

Mom is lonely.  Her daily mail is her lifeline to the world.  Maybe the $2 to get some mail is enough.  She has a few dozen grandchildren and great grandchildren.  She always sends them birthday cards with money; Christmas cards with money, however they don't all have time enough to reply with a thank you card or an occasional letter, whereas Boys Town thanks her and sends more stuff with each contribution.  Maybe we are recommending she cut off the wrong contributions. 
   To meet her perceived need for a medical alert (she does go to the mailbox in the yard and to the garden and is wobbly on her feet and of course won't use a walker or even a cane), I started looking for local support.  

   The St Croix Medical Center has a misleading statement on their website  SCRMC Alert System    It seems to say they have this service

Patient Services: Medic Alert System/ Medi-Mate

Medi-Mate is a 24-hour emergency response system that easily connects to a subscriber's telephone and automatically calls the hospital for help should an emergency arise. The unit can also be activated by remote control.
Friends and neighbors are trained as responders, and emergency medical personnel are always available to respond to calls. This system is designed for those who live alone or have limited mobility, and it is available through the hospital, at moderate cost, on a monthly lease basis.
For more information or home medical equipment, call Diana Gall 715-483-0267.
I called the number and found that SCRMC doesn't do anything like this itself--just referred me to a local security service that sells the service.  CWS Link   
They setup a system and provide an operator to call for about $30 per month with rental of the phone system or half that if you buy the under $300 device.  They take the call (Austin MN operators) and call a list of neighbor's numbers or 911 as they determine the need for help.  It seemed to be a reasonable service with local contacts. 
In thinking about having an Austin MN operator call neighbors (or sons in our case), I thought maybe just buying the device without the operator service would work, and so after a days of internet research decided the best device would be the Logicmark Freedom Alert which has 3 choices:
   -- 911 only   
   -- or 1 to 4 calls first and then 911 
   -- or just up to 4 numbers (with 9 retries through the 4 numbers). 
  Reviews were good; list price and most places charged $279.   In wondering if there was a cheaper alternative, checked on Walmart who offers their own $14 per month medical alert call service and found they also sold this device through their online store at $219. 
After some discussion with Mom and the brothers, I ordered the device with a 3 year Walmart warranty (about $260 total with warranty and tax).  Got it and programmed it with 4 numbers. 
Programming is not too bad-- I hooked it to the phone (the phone line goes into this device and then a wire out to your normal touch tone phone).  Call a number (my cell) to get it online and then follow some instructions to enter the password (1234#) and then each number ending with #.  The unit talks to you and lets you know what you are doing and repeats back each number as you enter it. 
The base unit has 4 rechargeable NIMH batteries that will run it without being plugged in for 24 hours.  The hand held unit is really a roving phone good for the home and yard --500 feet or so (works in the garden and at mailbox).  It has a single rechargeable lithium AAA battery that is good for a month with a recharging slot in the base unit. Tells you in voice when the battery needs changing. 
The setup was easy.  The testing was easy.  The phone calls each number in turn looking for a live person by asking each number "this is an emergency call.  Press 5 to take it..."  If you press 5, it means you are real, not just the answering machine. If you don't, it hangs up and dials the next number (up to 4 different ones).  If you don't make 911 the end number, it will cycle through the 4 numbers 9 times trying to get a real person). 
We have had some trouble getting the process through with Mom.  It would have been very easy to just set it to 911 only, however in contacting the local 911 people, they prefer the local numbers first option--for sure during the testing/learning period.  
Mom can't hear very well, so the answering machines each of us have and the Press 5 command (which she hears and thinks she should press something -- no numbers on the device to press however), and the slow process through number after number getting answering machines is frustrating and mom has always been an impatient person. But we have hope, and Mom has an emergency device that will call her sons.  She has, while we were there, tried it several times.  We plan to keep testing it with her for a few more weeks.

The handheld device can be held up to her ear and is loud enough to hear the other person.  Held at the ear, she can talk and it goes through fine to the other person --sort of a very simplified wireless roving phone connected to a base that has no buttons to press.    
Been thinking that we probably should have the device first call a person with a cell phone that is always on so the very first call always goes through and the complication of a chain of calls doesn't happen. 

 Not so good for Marv and me as our houses are down the hill west of Hwy 87 with poor cell service; brother Ev rarely turns his on as he thinks of it as his call button for when a tree falls on him next time; and we don't want to impose on the next generation for whom Mom has already passed on.  Possibly with enough brother pressure, Ev might try carrying his cell regularly ;-)
We are in the learning stages, and it is unlikely that Mom will really ever need to use this, but as it comforts her and us, we will persist and figure it out!  Of course, getting her to wear it on the cord around her neck will be an interesting effort too.  It has a belt/walker clamp too, but the neck cord works best for Mom, we think.   It is water proof to a level--can take it in the shower or maybe into the dish water, but really don't want to test that!
Wish us luck. 

First Killing Frost

The lastest date for the first killing frost up here in the northwoods that I can ever remember.  The earliest was in the 60s when the corn got froze hard in late August forcing the silo filling a month early.  
A hard frost brings change--not as much as the first snow, but it signals, for me, another push in cutting fire wood.  

Maple leaves are mostly down with the oaks beginning their spectacular show on the Sterling Barrens. 

Aspens are late in turning this year--maybe they need a frost to trigger the color change.  This is on what is left of the old Orr gravel pit ridge. 

If you are an ant, this hill represents building the Empire State Building over the summer!

This used to be a big hill--a pile of gravel that was all used in the rebuild of Hwy 87 many years ago, leaving a pothole.  My neighbor Jim Falk, (who passed away last winter) planted some tamaracks and popples along the north edge.  Whenever I see them it will remind me of Jim.   He retired and built a home along the river road and bought some of the old Orr Farm.  He loved hunting and his deer stand nearby sported a TV antenna!  Jim started having memory problems (seemed to be triggered by a head injury in an accident), and gradually lost his identity.  He was a good neighbor -- so as long as I walk down the road and see these trees, I will remember him and his memorial planting. 
   Margo has been feeling tired and worn down from the year of cancer treatment and is taking it easy and doing some catchup with other medical problems that were caused by or delayed by the cancer treatment.  We are looking forward to a quiet winter -- maybe January and February in the south again.  I remain in remission from Myasthenia Gravis, and just old age is my excuse nowadays for what I don't get done!  

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Autumn Food

Plenty of food this fall for the birds and wildlife.  

Autumn Leaves are Falling

Orr Creek meanders south to Wolf Creek from Orr Lake (our cabin lake).

The 91 Olds with the cabin hidden in the woods to the left.  

Friday was the meeting of the Northwest Wisconsin Regional Writers--topic was Halloween.  Nov's meeting will be "Cold Turkey."

Maples are mostly yellow at the cabin this fall. 

One of the two conservation ponds holds some water this fall.  A pair of ducks flew up as I approached.  

Bittersweet berries haven't opened to show their red centers. Bluebirds and robins are thick eating the grapes, partrideberries and thorn apples this week. 

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Planting Pine Trees 50 years ago

Working on the Cushing Fire Department History--1963 beginnings, I ran across some interesting items in the 1963 treasurer's receipts.   Two were related to me!  One was a $10 bill submitted for 4 boys and their mother spending 2 days brushing, cleaning and mowing the Pioneer Cemetery out on Evergreen Av (the Bush Cemetery) and the other was a bill submitted for a week of planting Red Pines for the town of Sterling.  

Sterling Township ordered 20,000 jack pines and 10,000 Norway Pines through the WI state nursery at Gordon WI Feb 20, 1963.  The Jacks were 2 year old and the Red pines 3 year old. 

Sterling rented the Polk County tree planter (a pull behind plow/seat where you dropped trees into a furrow) to plant the 20,000 Jack Pines.  

Sterling paid Russ Hanson and Walter Dahl $45 each to spend 4.5 days planting the 10,000 Red Pines.   1,000 trees per day was considered a full day's work.  We got $1.25 per hour.  Russ took off school days to earn the money.  He spent it on a telescope mirror for a 6 inch reflector telescope he was building.  

The Sterling letterhead in those days showed with pride the 4000 acres of Sterling Forest land.  Much of this was land that had been acquired from folks who no longer paid the taxes in the Depression years.   Polk County acquired a great deal more land.  Sterling Town has the largest town forest in all of Wisconsin.  It is open to all sorts of recreational activities along with timber harvest.

We planted trees in two different places.  Both were old fields that had been farmed in the heyday of barrens farming back in the 1870s-1900.  The thin topsoil was soon exhausted of fertility and the dry years in the 1890s caused a great deal of sandstorms on the open land.  The farmers moved on, and with the beginning of fire control in the 1930s, much of the land was beginning to turn from a great open prairie to jack-pine and scrub oak forests (what is there now).  

I remember one of the field locations--along the beginning of the old road running down to the Sunrise ferry from where Wally Lund had his home on the corner -- turn west off of 330th St down Ferry Drive and go until you see a pine plantation along the north side of the road.  The other, was some old field back in the woods along a trail I can't remember anymore. I plan to take a drive to the plantation and photograph it any day now--what our tree planting looks like 50 years later. 

You can read a little about the tree planting effort by Polk County at POLK FORESTATION

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Polk County WI Lakeshore preservation under attack?

Recent letters to the editor in the local newspapers as well as a motion passed at the Polk County board to tell zoning folks to go easy on lake shore zoning seem to be part of an attempt by local conservatives (Tea Party county board man Hershel in the lead) to promote a pro-business attitude.  It fits with the current WI push to open the state to business by weakening environmental concerns.

For those of us who like clean water, clean air, and a rural environment, this is a concern.  It comes at a time when the Polk Zoning committee is rewriting the zoning rules.  We have to be careful or the pro-business, anti-environment folks will weaken the protection of our natural resources.  I doubt that many of us would want Polk County to become another St Croix County WI or Chisago County MN--suburbs of the Twin Cities.

 You can read and comment on this either way and are supposed to be able to submit the comment form online, however I found after I filled it out, it failed to submit--so I wouldn't count on this getting to the zoning committee without printing it and sending it by mail.

Zoning changes

 If you doubt the direction of the movement, check the recent actions of the county board attempting to force the zoning board to ignore the zoning rules on lake shore zoning and the general direction of WI to open mines all over the place with weakened regulation.  We have a wonderful local environment and filling it with development is really not going to make things better.  Just tell them to protect our lakes, streams and beautiful surroundings.  

Many of us grumble at times about the zoning regulations, however they are needed.  I remember when Bass Lake, just north of Cushing was an excellent fishing lake -- 1950s and earlier.  However, by the 1960s, the barnyard runoff from just 4 neighboring farmers fertilized it so heavily that it became a mass of weeds; the fish died off, and it was a ruined lake.  

Since that time, zoning and much improved farming practices have allowed the lake to begin the process of rebalancing and now I occasionally see a fisher or swimmer in the lake again.  We have to be very careful in the rewrite of these rules that we don't lose protection of our wonderful area.

 I was struck by this article in the Twin Cities newspapers:
Mining Problems could pollute water for 500 years     

If we don't speak up, we may find our county rapidly becoming someplace we don't want to live anymore.

Affordable Health Care

Having spent most of my career working in the healthcare industry and experienced with much of what is happening with the Obamacare rollout, I am adding my opinion here. I am biased, as I am in favor of something being done rather than leaving things as they were before Obamacare.  I do think it will need changes as things evolve. 

Republicans are enthused about the computer glitches with the opening of Obamacare--part of their desperate hopes it will fail and are bragging that few people have signed up for insurance yet.  They continue to shut down the govt to try to force a roll-back of affordable health care for fear that it will work.  

 Democrats are pleased that 7 million people have already gone online to find out more about affordable insurance.  They also do not expect folks to sign up without a few weeks of consideration and comparison shopping.  

  A real test of Obamacare is to let it happen and if it doesn't work, then fix it.  If you really don't like it, then win an election so you can roll it back--don't just throw a tantrum. 

 As a retired computer systems person, I am impressed any computer site that has 7 million users in the first 3 days has been working at all.  We always tested things and then rolled it out and spent the next few weeks 24x7 fixing the problems as they arose with heavy use--something you really can't test for.  Remember, most of the computer systems were built by private businesses contracted to do this for the government--not by government programmers themselves, so the finger pointing is really at private companies.   

Anyone who works in highly computerized industry learns to be wary of doing things on Mondays--as we programmers role out our changes over the weekend and they get the real user test on Monday!  And they are always particularly nervous about a brand new roll-out, just as we are with a new version of our computer programs.

  The good thing is that the fixes are generally quickly done; the bottlenecks figured out and things smooth out soon.  That is what is happening with the ACA roll out of exchanges.  

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Daniel H Beal Obituary

Note:   The Beal family is planning a memorial service for Luck in about a month.

O'Halloran Murphy Funeral Home

Daniel H. Beal 
(May 24, 1931 - September 28, 2013)
Age 82 of Luck, WI. Formerly of Roseville Passed away Sunday September 29, 2013 after a courageous battle with Pulmonary Fibrosis. 

Daniel retired from the Roseville Public Schools early to enjoy a retirement of creativity, adventure and dedication to his family. 

Daniel was always one to question, to challenge, to lead, to tell you to walk with your head down and look for the perfect agate. As Evie says "He was an exciting man to share a lifetime with." 

Preceded in death by parents, Harold and Nellie; sisters, Hope (Dwight) Blagrove, Judy (Bob) Sills, Neila (Fred) Block. Survived by wife, Evie; children, Danise Beal (Cathy Jann) and Eric (Laura); grandchildren, Joseph and Claire Meador, Karli Condon, Josh, and Whitney (Chaz) Afong; great grandchildren, Toka and Tehani Afong; sister, Jennifer (Bernie) Hagen and many nieces, nephews other relatives and friends. 

 Visitation Sunday from 5-9 pm at the Roseville Memorial Chapel, 2245 N. Hamline Ave. In lieu of flowers memorials preferred to any charitable organization of your choice.

 Thank you to the caring and loving staffs of Healtheast Hospice and BrightStar.